As I’ve preached through the early chapters of 1 Kings, I’ve been reflecting on the temple.
In the book of Exodus (chapter 26 to be exact), God gives very specific instructions about constructing the tabernacle. It functioned as the portable tent where the ark of the covenant–the place where God was present in a particular way–was placed.
Fast forward to the temple construction. There are no specific instructions given by God.
Was Solomon’s temple really what God had in mind?
Did God want to dwell in a building build with cedar and limestone?
What if David and Solomon missed the point and God graciously inhabited the fixed building anyway?
What do you think?
Here are a handful of scriptures to consider:
2 Sam. 7
1 Kings 6:12-13
1 Cor. 3:16-17
3 thoughts on “Was Solomon’s temple really what God had in mind?”
I never asked these questions before, and I suppose that I never found it necessary to question the motives of David and Solomon regarding building the Temple.
David's motives were pretty clear in 2 Sam. 7. He thought that the God of the universe's "Earthly dwelling place" should be at least as good as his own.
Solomon seemed to have some understanding of its importance as he knew David wanted to build it, and he declared (1 Kings 8:29) that God promised to live there.
You are right, there wasn't a decree to get it going from God. It was men who wanted to please the Lord, and He graciously responded. In addition God warned that He would abandon the Temple if Solomon or his sons ever turned away from Him.
Also, I'm not sure that I would consider what Solomon did when he conscripted laborers throughout Israel as a form of slavery. Even when the Tabernacle was built Moses did the same thing (though arguably, God requested it to be built). Solomon's actions certainly were not the same as what Pharaoh did when he "enslaved Israel". Maybe more along the lines of a military draft. Furthermore, the reasoning behind it, at least from a plain reading of the text appears to be pure.
I guess I just wouldn't use these verses to encourage people to not "miss the point" of following the Lord…
Thanks for your comments. Every word in the text is important and there are reasons why certain words are repeated.
Your suggestion that Moses forced people into building the tabernacle, is it rooted in the text? From what I read, Solomon's forced labour and appointment of foremen has a lot more in common with Exodus 2 (Pharaoh's enslavement of Israel) than it does with the latter part of Exodus when God invites "everyone who is willing" (Ex. 35:5) to offer their materials and skills in building the tabernacle. The whole chapter in Exodus 35 demonstrates a community who work because they are willing, not because they have been oppressed and conscripted.
God delivered His people so they could be free from oppression. But Solomon forced them into hard labour. Even after Solomon's death, the people cried out to his son, Rehoboam, saying, "Your father put a heavy yoke on us…" (1 Kings 12:3).
I doubt the heavy yoke of being conscripted "burden-bearers" (literal translation) was God's plan for his people. Unfortunately, many of us, myself included, have assumed at times that forcing people is better than beckoning those who are willing. That's never a good leadership strategy.
I noticed that HMC has a BLOG page so I went to it and saw the blog “Was Solomon's temple really what God had in mind?” I read the questions you posed, listened to the message and here is my answer to “What do you think?”
Your message seems to be based on the premise that Solomon was building the temple from his own ambition and from his own design and that his activities and agreements he entered into to build it were unwise choices. I disagree.
You stated on the BLOG that “There are no specific instructions given by God.” 1Chronicles 28:12 says that “He (David) gave him (Solomon) the plans of all that the Spirit had put in his mind….”
God had given the specifics of the temple and these are what Solomon was acting on. God had agreed with David’s desire to build a house for the Lord but had declared Solomon as the builder (2 Sam 7:13). I don’t think that your statement that Solomon modeled the temple after the tabernacle and other foreign nations (pagan) temples is correct as we are told that God gave David the details and specifications which Solomon followed (1 Ch 28:11-19), (1Kings 6:38).
You also stated on the BLOG that “Did God want to dwell in a building build with cedar and limestone?” The answer is yes (2 Sam 7). God said He would plant them (Israel) and give them rest so they can have a home and not wander and that David’s son would build a house for Him.
It is interesting to note that Lebanon was decreed by the Lord to be and inheritance for Israel (Joshua 13:6) so Solomon asked for cedars and other wood to build the temple, but his people lacked the skill to hew it and asked Hiram to do it and he would pay him for the service. There was nothing but delight in Hiram’s reply to Solomon concerning this request, including the use of Israelites to help. 1Kings 5: 7, 8 states that (v7) “When Hiram heard Solomon’s message he was greatly pleased….”, (v8) “I have received the message you sent me and will do all that you want…”. Nowhere does it imply Hiram did not want the Israelites there in his land as you have implied. Hiram agreed to Solomon sending the Israelites as per 1 Kings 5:14. Solomon then honoured Hiram by granting his wish to provide food for his royal household.
You stated that the agreement “logs for money” was costly for Solomon. You state that Solomon’s yearly income was 33,000 kor. 1 Kings 4:22 says that the daily provisions needed for Solomon amounted to 33,000 kor per year. The 22,000 kor for Hiram likely came from the tribute paid to Solomon from the countries that were subject to him.
Solomon did not make any bad choices or become subjugated to Hiram just to get the wood. V12 says that “The Lord gave Solomon wisdom, just as he had promised him.” Solomon did not forget God in the process nor did God forget Solomon.
The conscripted labour that went to Lebanon was from Israel; 10,000 per shift for one month then two months at home. Granted they were in “temple service” but Solomon knew that they had family responsibilities and need of rest so efficiently dealt with it. Not so for the forced labourers (v15) who were taken from the subjugated nations. There is no mention of “rest time” for them. Solomon did not enslave the people for his own ambition as you stated. Solomon conscripted Israelites and gathered forced labour to accomplish what the Lord had decreed.
The admonition the Lord gave to Solomon (1 Kings 6:11-13) was the same he gave to David his father that, if he (David) remained faithful to the Lord, He would establish the throne of his kingdom forever. In addition (v13), he would live among His people, in the temple Solomon was building, and would not abandon them.
Jason, I felt you read too many things into the text that were not there. There are so many positive things in these two chapters that demonstrate Gods faithfulness and involvement with His people that we can use for our encouragement.
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